Afghan border success may mean more fighting
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Pakistani military is pushing militants into Afghanistan, meaning U.S. troops there could face a tougher fight this winter, a U.S. commander in northeast Afghanistan said Tuesday.
The fighting season in Afghanistan typically runs from spring until the onset of winter, when militants head to their sanctuaries in Pakistan.
But since September, the Pakistani military and paramilitary forces have been fighting militants on that side of the border, said Col. John M. Spiszer, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.
"From my perspective, what they’ve been doing over the past two months is a sustained offensive that’s really put pressure on the enemy in a way that I don’t think — from I’ve learned in the past — has happened before," Spiszer told reporters at a news conference.
As a result, militants could end up spending the winter in Afghanistan, he said.
"We certainly are going to continue our offensive operations in the winter, so we may seem some increased violence trends over the winter that we haven’t seen in the past," Spiszer said
Right now, U.S. forces are assisting the Pakistanis by trying to stop the flow of fighters trying to cross between the two countries, Spiszer said. Combined efforts to control the border will be enhanced when troops from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division arrive in Afghanistan next year.
The security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated dramatically, prompting commanders to ask for four additional brigade combat teams worth of U.S. troops.
The Defense Department has diverted about 5,700 soldiers and Marines from Iraq to Afghanistan, but further reinforcements will not be available until spring or summer.
Commanders in Afghanistan have requested three additional brigade combat teams of U.S. troops, but Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said further reinforcements will not be available until spring or summer.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently gave lawmakers a somber assessment of the war in Afghanistan.
"I’m not convinced we’re winning it in Afghanistan; I am convinced we can," Mullen told Congress in September.